How many times have you clicked “yes” on a user agreement without reading it? Pretty much every time, right?

No one is reading them. The result is that we don’t really know what we’re agreeing to–but most of us are willing to take that risk. We don’t have time to read 67 pages of arcane text before we start using a site.

So, to all software developers/social media site managers/companies of all sizes and shapes: Stop writing them. It is not that hard. Give us the rules of the road, and let us move along. There’s no reason for user agreements to be written in a way that makes reading them onerous. Just because we live and work under an Anglo-American legal system (except for you, Louisiana, I know) doesn’t mean we should be writing documents in some Middle English/Latin hybrid. Henry II of England is not checking your policies, and if he were, he’d have no idea how to keep his status up to date on foursquare.*

So let’s all act like we live in this century, and write for our audiences. That includes our user agreements. It’s right there in the name of the document.

*Although now that I’ve written that sentence, I really want to create social media profiles for him, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their assorted dysfunctional children. And yes, I know Henry spoke French.